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Return to 'spiritual home' for AFC Croydon Athletic

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AFC Croydon Athletic, which formed after the collapse of Croydon Athletic, is set to return to its predecessor's home for the forthcoming season.

The club, which was founded by fans in 2012, is in a race against the clock to refurbish the Keith Tuckey Stadium in Mayfield Road, Thornton Heath, in time for the start of the new season.

Paul Smith, the club's chairman, said: "The league are keen for us to return, as it's a fine stadium for the level we are at, but they are realistic about our situation."

The stadium is currently undergoing refurbishments after the clubhouse was destroyed in an arson attack in January 2013.

The ground was the original home of Croydon Athletic, which was founded in 1986 until it folded in 2011, after disgraced owner Mazhar Majeed was jailed for his part in a test cricket spot-fixing row.

"A lot of people involved in the new club were supporters of the old club and lived through its demise," said Mr Smith.

"We see it [the stadium] as our spiritual home; we're a Thornton Heath club at heart."

Mr Smith described the great sense of achievement that AFC Croydon Athletic were able to return to their "spiritual home," as without a rich benefactor, it has always been a "huge" challenge to run the club.

"If there is a Russian billionaire who wants to get on board, they are more than welcome to join the club, but they will have the same say as everyone else," said Mr Smith. "But what's hugely important is that we help develop youth football, and that we engage with the local community.

"There is tremendous talent in Thornton Heath and we want to be a part of that."

Mr Smith said the club aims to get the stadium ready for the first game of the season on August 2, but there is still a "tremendous" amount of work to do .

"Our intention is to be ready for our first game," he added.

Having spent the last two years sharing the Croydon Sports Arena in South Norwood with Croydon FC, the club's board is close to signing a long-term lease with the owner of the stadium, Croydon Council.

On the field, the club also harbour hopes of promotion from the Combined Counties Division One next season. "

"We've done well over the last two years and among the players and backroom staff there is an expectation we can make a stab at promotion," said Mr Smith.

Return to 'spiritual home' for AFC Croydon Athletic


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